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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

President Bush tucked it in at the end of his announcement this morning. The new acting attorney general will be Peter Keisler, an assistant attorney general who had just announced his own resignation and whose nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals has been held up for months by Senate Democrats. So it will be Keisler, a diehard conservative and controversial figure, who occupies the DOJ top spot until a new AG is confirmed, instead of Solicitor General Paul Clement, who Bush first announced as acting AG last month, when Alberto Gonzales' intended resignation was made public. Paul Kiel has the details.

So while putting forward what purports to be a consensus nominee, in Mukasey, Bush also puts a lightning rod in as acting AG. Presumably, Bush wants to keep the heat on Dems to confirm Mukasey, by making them face the prospect of a long Keisler tenure if the Mukasey nomination is held up. This is especially true given Democrats' demands that the White House and DOJ comply with document requests pertaining to the U.S. attorney firings and the administration's warrantless wiretapping program before the Senate considers confirmation.

Walter Pincus teases out this little gem:

A week ago today, Gen. David H. Petraeus started his rounds on Capitol Hill, reporting that security in Iraq was improving to the point that a small number of troops could begin coming home by year's end.

But 10 days ago, his commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.

"With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties," according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Former U.S. District Court Judge Michael B. Mukasey is emerging as President Bush's possible nominee to replace Alberton Gonzales, The Times reports. The Politico goes farther:

White House officials signaled to influential conservatives this weekend that Michael B. Mukasey, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan who is the former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is the likely choice to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, several Republicans close to the process told The Politico.

"It came down to confirmability," said a former Justice Department official close to the conversations.


The anticipated move was originally reported last night by The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, in what looks like a preemptive attempt to mollify disgruntled conservatives: the piece was titled, "Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General . . . And conservatives should be happy."

Images of Gen. David Petraeus appeared in an ad the Giuliani campaign began running yesterday attacking Hillary Clinton. The Pentagon says the use of the Petraeus images was done without Petraeus' consent. Military personnel are barred by Pentagon regulations from appearing in political ads in uniform. Greg has more at Election Central.

Retiring Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace:

Offering a blunt assessment of the decisions and recommendations he made back in early 2003, an introspective Pace told Pentagon reporters that with the aid of 20-20 hindsight, it's clear he made "errors in assumption."

"One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation," said Pace, who will leave the chairman's job on Oct. 1. "If I knew that the Iraqi army was not going to be available, then I probably would have made a different recommendation about the total size force going in."

In retrospect, he said, "you say you wish you knew, but you didn't know on the way in."


Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan:

In a withering critique of his fellow Republicans, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says in his memoir that the party to which he has belonged all his life deserved to lose power last year for forsaking its small-government principles. . . .

Mr. Greenspan, who calls himself a "lifelong libertarian Republican," writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake." Republicans in Congress, he writes, "swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

It was Alberto Gonzales' last day as attorney general. So what better way to end his embarrassing tenure than with a DOJ inspector general audit. From the AP (thanks to TPM Reader HL for the tip):

An internal Justice audit, released Friday, showed the department spent nearly $7 million to plan, host or send employees to 10 conferences over the last two years. This included paying $4 per meatball at one lavish dinner and spreading an average of $25 worth of snacks around to each participant at a movie-themed party. . . .

The report, which looked at the 10 priciest Justice Department conferences between October 2004 and September 2006, was ordered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It also found that three-quarters of the employees who attended the conferences demanded daily reimbursement for the cost of meals while traveling -- effectively double-dipping into government funds. . . .

Six of the 10 conferences were approved by the department's Office of Justice Programs, whose assistant attorney general, Regina Schofield, resigned this week. It could not immediately be determined whether the report had anything to do with that, but Carr said Schofield left to take a job with a nonprofit child welfare services organization.


An audit ordered by Senate Democrats. A suspiciously timed resignation by an assistant attorney general. Gonzo was under siege until the bitter end. Just for old times' sake, here's one last look at the Top 10 Moments of Alberto Gonzales Ridiculousness.

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